Welcome to this week’s “State of the ebook”. As usual, we’re diving in with news, then looking at a few major stories that have been floating around the ebook world.
Apparently the eInk/Android mashup is becoming very attractive these days, as on the heels of the Entourage Edge and the Alex Reader we have yet ANOTHER similar device. This one is the 1Cross Tech MIDHybrid, and it has an LCD screen with Android and a QWERTY on one side, and an eInk on the other. Sort of like the cousin of the Entourage Edge. There’s no info on pricing, but it’s so darn cute!
If you are a history buff, you can now browse Ulysses Grant’s writings online. Finally, you can complete your thesis without leaving the house!
Amazon is looking to beef up the Kindle’s browser. Maybe. Or they’re just building out the features of a future device…I still say we’ll see a color Kindle by the end of 2010.
Hachette Books has reported that ebook sales in the USA were $5 million in December 2009. In one month, ebooksall of Hachette’s 2008 electronic sales! This ties in with Amazon’s declaration that ebooks sold more than paper books on Christmas day, but WOW!
I mentioned this during the Read an eBook Week post, but demand for Smashwords free ebooks was so high it took down their site! That’s huge! Luckily it has come back up, and it seems to be running well, so be sure to stock up on books. And stop by our Read an eBook Week rundown to enter our Kindle 2 case giveaway!
Kobo Books was out the day after the iPad launch declaring they would have an iPad specific version, and now Barnes and Noble is jumping into the iPad world as well. It’s been assumed for some time that the big ebook players (B&N, Amazon, Stanza) would be releasing iPad-specific versions, but it’s great to hear it confirmed. They don’t elucidate on what, if any, differences there will be from the iPhone version, though hopefully, they found a way to take further advantage of the larger screen.
Barnes and Noble is also quite proud of the Crunchie they received from TechCrunch. They’ve put it up as part of their in-store nook signage!
This leads into one of the big debates/opinion pieces around the web these days; that Apple may, in fact, remove all non-iBooks ebooks from the app store. I don’t see this happening for one major reason. iBooks is unproven, and NO ONE has a library of them yet. On the other hand, ebook fans with iPod Touches and iPhones already have big libraries of B&N, Amazon and Stanza books, and they are chomping at the bit to read them on a larger screen. Why risk alienating them and preventing them from being early adopters? Once the iPad is established, there’s a good chance all bets are off, but for now, it’s less of a worry, at least in my opinion.
Teleread does have an excellent point, though; they think there’s a good chance Apple will yank apps that are nothing more than a public domain classic in an app wrapper. It inflates the ebook numbers on the App Store significantly to keep these around, and many times they don’t add anything as far as illustrations, interactive content, etc. They are simply classics that can be downloaded for free through Project Gutenberg or Manybooks, but with an app wrapper and a small charge of a few dollars. To me, these apps are nothing more than a rip-off, and if Apple purged those there would be no big loss. Just so it is clear, apps that are adding something, whether it’s audio content, video content, interactive materials, those are definitely worth paying for. But why pay for a vanilla book when you can get it for free?
Here is something that’s bothered me for a while about publishers and ebooks. They complain bitterly about the price of ebooks being too low, but there’s another side to it. I buy a lot of books. Typically my budget is around $30/month for books; at $9.99 an ebook, I can grab 3 books instead of one or two. But what happens next is that I read my three books, and I turn around and tell people about the books I enjoyed. Not everyone I know owns an ebook reader. But anyone can grab a regular paper book and start reading…so does it count as a win for publishers if my reading more ebooks sells more paper books by extension?
Finally, Seth Godin again has some great advice for publishers on his blog. The first part of his post really hits home for any industry:
The Wordperfect Axiom
When the platform changes, the leaders change.
Wordperfect had a virtual monopoly on word processing in big firms that used DOS. Then Windows arrived and the folks at Wordperfect didn’t feel the need to hurry in porting themselves to the new platform. They had achieved lock-in after all, and why support Microsoft?
In less than a year, they were toast.
When the game machine platform of choice switches from Sony to xBox to Nintendo, etc., the list of bestelling games change and new companies become dominant.
When the platform for music shifted from record stores to iTunes, the power shifted too, and many labels were crushed.
Again and again the same rules apply. In fact, they always do. When the platform changes, the deck gets shuffled.
Have you read your ebook for “Read an ebook week? Are you planning on hitting Apple.com first thing tomorrow for your iPad, or will you be happily curled up with your Sony/nook/Kindle? Share your thoughts below!